In 1925, Gabriela becomes cook, mistress, and then wife of Nacib, a bar owner in a small Brazilian coastal town runs by the local colonels. Nacib becomes tired of Gabriela's uneducated ways, and annuls the marriage whe...展开n he finds her in bed with his friend Tonico. The political ways of the town modernize slightly and Gabriela returns as Nacib's mistress.
Gabriela was based on Jorge Armado's novel Gabriela, Clove and Cinammon, which also served as the source of a typically steamy Brazilian TV soap opera. Set in 1925 (when the novel was first published), the film stars Marcello Mastrioanni as Nacib, a bartender in the Bahian village of Parati. When a drought descends upon the surrounding countryside, slovenly-but-sexy Gabriela (Sonja Braga) wanders into Parati with some friends and relatives. Immediately entranced by Gabriela's earthy sensuality, Nacib hires her as a cook and potential lover. Jealous of the attentions paid to Gabriela by the local menfolk, Nacib decides to marry her, then orders her to dress and behave in a more prudish fashion. But Gabriela can't help straying sexually, and as consequence it is Nacib who is forced to undergo the film's major character transformation.